Last Sunday marked the 21st anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
When the day ended, 2,977 persons had lost their lives at three different locations: New York City, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. Included in that number are law enforcement, EMTs and fire/rescue personnel — the ones who ran to the scene while everyone else was running away — as well as the terrorists.
America is not a stranger to terrorism, but the World Trade Center attack was terrorism at a whole new level. Radical Islamic extremists were responsible for the bold act against America.
However, on April 19, 1995, another kind of terrorism rocked Oklahoma City with the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, costing the lives of 187 men, women and children. This bombing was not carried out by Islamist extremists but by homegrown terrorists, of which one name is remembered: Timothy McVeigh. There were others apprehended and tried.
There was another domestic terrorist attack that was more recent. The Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol with the resulting deaths of five persons, and later four law enforcement officers who died by suicide.
Domestic terrorism is not new to the United States, but until Jan. 6, 2021, naming it and prosecuting it has been pretty straight forward.
Acts against the government ending in any loss of life have been named domestic terrorism, and the FBI moved forward to identify and prosecute those involved in the terroristic act. Except Jan. 6, 2021.
The people behind the Murrah Federal Building bombing appear to be only four people: Timothy McVeigh, who was sentenced to death and executed, Terry Nichols who is serving a life sentence, Michael Fortier who was given a 12-year sentence, and his wife, Lori, who turned state’s evidence.
The point is, domestic terrorism like what we saw Jan. 6, 2021, is not being treated in the same way, although, quite frankly, it is domestic terrorism and should be prosecuted as zealously as was the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building bombing.
A democracy that loses the will to protect itself against radical elements within its society is a democracy that will not last. It cannot.
Is that where we are? Are we at a place in this nation where, by definition, some are above the law?
Is a leader with a significant following untouchable, even though his constant rhetoric is designed to incite and inspire violence against others? Is that where we are?
Are members of Congress, who have sworn to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law, allowed to participate in insurrection activities and speeches in clear violation of the 14th Amendment with impunity?
Will megaphoned opinionists not be held responsible when they deliberately undermine the institutions of democracy by supporting and promoting election lies and misinformation?
Why are we not as righteously angered by domestic terrorists like the MAGA crowd on Jan. 6, 2021, as we were with the Oklahoma City bombing, or the World Trade Center bombing? Were not enough lives lost? Did we need to see more blood?
I do believe there was a time when loyalty to the United States, to the Constitution, to the rule of law and to the tenets of our democracy surpassed all other loyalties.
The one exception was for people of faith who confessed that their absolute loyalty was to God. However, even when the nation came second, it was in august company.
It is past time for people of all ages to stand up, step out and raise our voices to declare and demand that our government take itself seriously and, therefore, relentlessly pursue those within our nation who would do our democracy harm.
We are not perfect by any means. We struggle in different areas of our nation, and we are not the “best” at many things.
Yet, if there is one indication of who we are in the world, consider that people from around the world still seek to come to America because of its commitment to freedom and democracy. That should tell us something.
A private practice counselor working with veterans and survivors of trauma. Previously, Chancellor served four churches in Texas for 33 years, then ran a Mental Health Department of Alan B. Polunsky Maximum Security prison which houses death row.